With vaccinations on the rise and more locations preparing to return to quasi-normal, businesses need to plan next steps. While numerous surveys show that employees mostly celebrate returning to the office, workers expect more flexibility than before. For many organizations, this means operating with a hybrid workforce.
A hybrid workforce includes employees working in a traditional setting as well as employees working remotely. In fact, many workers plan to split their time between the office and home. To promote success in this new environment, organizations need to use the lessons from 2020 to drive strategies moving forward.
Analyze Lessons Learned
While the world moved to remote work overnight, the switch to the next working model will require more careful planning. Looking back at the pros and cons of the past year provides a perfect starting point for strategic planning.
For instance, workers reported greater productivity at home, and organizations learned how to use technology to enhance collaboration over distance. However, home networks in many cases could not adequately support the additional load, while IT staff struggled to secure the increase in endpoints. And employees experienced digital fatigue brought on by endless online meetings.
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Rethink Office Spaces for Hybrid Workforce
In a hybrid workforce, office spaces can include the home as well as corporate offices and co-working spaces. A successful strategy will provide a consistent experience for all members of a team, regardless of their office location.
Organizations must ensure that those working remotely have the necessary equipment, bandwidth, and security tools. Employees may also need training to manage routers, check bandwidth, implement security measures and so forth. Additionally, leveraging cloud services will help workers move seamlessly from office to home and back.
Empowering a hybrid workforce means making changes at the corporate office, as well. For instance, to support ongoing video meetings, conference rooms need up-to-date equipment. This will ideally include 360-degree cameras to ensure that remote employees feel fully involved.
Adjust Data Security Practices
One critical area that organizations must address involves data security. Outdated, perimeter-based security strategies will no longer protect the emerging workforce. IT leadership must conduct thorough risk analyses and adjust network and security policies accordingly. Updates must take into account all of the various workspaces involved.
Ensuring that home offices have necessary equipment and that employees know how to use it properly provides a great starting point. Be certain to implement endpoint security best practices, as well. And make sure that business continuity plans cover the expanded environment.
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Match Connection Solutions to the Need
Statistics from multiple sources show that workers spend more time in meetings now than ever before, contributing to digital overload. Thus, while team members need to connect, both for collaboration and sociality, more meetings will not fit the bill. Fortunately, over the past months people have grown more comfortable with various technology options.
Moving forward, take time to rethink connection strategies. Different types of technology work best for different scenarios. For instance, Microsoft Teams delivers feature-rich options for collaborating on documents or brainstorming ideas. And chat apps work well for time-sensitive questions.
Meetings still have a place but use them wisely. For instance, use a video or in person meeting to discuss sensitive issues. Also, for group meetings, consider that just because everyone can attend, that does not mean that they need to attend. Meeting summaries can be shared via distribution list with those who need the takeaways but do not need to participate in the meeting.
Implementing Strategies for a Hybrid Workforce
Organizations may find that the hybrid workforce brings the best of both worlds, delivering improved collaboration, productivity, and flexibility. But successfully navigating the hybrid normal will take careful planning and wise technology choices.